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If Mike Haridopolos needs to back up his conservative cred, he can dust off the book he published in 1998, a forerunner to another text that has become an issue in his U.S. Senate campaign.

Throughout 10 Big Issues Facing Our Generation, Haridopolos espouses a decidedly conservative viewpoint that is relevant today. He sounds alarms about spending - "The national debt is over 5.4 trillion dollars: $5,400,000,000,000!" - and calls for a balanced-budget amendment.

"The threat to democracy today is not a foreign foe, but ourselves," he wrote. "Great movements often fall from within and we must not let this happen."

He also takes on more controversial subjects. "There must be a gradual move to a completely privatized Social Security system in order to meet the challenges presented by impending demographic changes."

"The conservative position is that competition, not government cost controls, will lower medical costs," the book read under the heading Medicare. "We must allow our seniors to choose their health care providers. They may choose an HMO, PPO or other plan. We should take government out of the equation altogether."

Haridopolos provides the conservative viewpoint and a fellow Brevard Community College professor provides the liberal one. A sample of the conservative positions:

On taxes: "The solution is a simple flat tax without deductions at a rate of 17 percent of all wages."

On school choice: "Allow real competition even with private and religious institutions. The schools that perform best would receive necessary dollars for the incoming students."

On the environment: "The EPA must either be more flexible with American business or cease to exist."

Haridopolos' co-author said this year that they each made about $500 off the book. Big difference from the $152,000 Haridopolos earned for Florida Legislative History and Processes.

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Haridopolos switches focus

Speaking of Haridopolos, with the 2011 legislative session over, he has quickly refocused on his U.S. Senate campaign.

Monday, Haridopolos got some media face time at a bill signing in Fort Myers and then appeared at the Naples Board of Realtors and Collier Republican Club. Today, he will give a speech in Clewiston for the 61st anniversary of the Florida Federation of Republican Women. He's expecting a "national level" endorsement sometime this week.

Republican opponents George LeMieux and Adam Hasner have continued to visit GOP groups and raise money.

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Late bid to ban mercury fails

State Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, used a health care bill in the final hours of session Friday to try to tack on a mercury ban in children's vaccines.

Bennett believes thimerosal, a mercury-derived preservative, leads to autism in children. Bennett and others previously tried to ban thimerosal in 2009 on behalf of GOP donor Gary Kompothecras, a millionaire chiropractor best known for his "1-800-ASK-GARY" lawyer-medical referral service.

But a majority of senators believe the science is dubious. Bennett's amendment failed on a voice vote.

"I would caution you, just because some organization has a fancy scientific sounding name, that doesn't mean their publications are peer reviewed, or that what they call science is truly science," said Sen. Alan Hays, a Republican dentist from Umatilla.

Sen. Ronda Storms fought for the amendment. "It is not based on pure quackery," she said, reading from the Centers for Disease Control website.

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Rolling in dough before session

Boy, did we miss this. House Speaker Dean Cannon's new political committee, Florida Freedom Council, pulled in $364,500 in just one week before the start of session.

Times staff writers Adam C. Smith and Aaron Sharockman contributed to this report.